KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sporting Kansas City needed no late heroics to run their winning streak to three straight matches and hand Los Angeles their first loss since mid-May, but they did need to hold on tight at the end.
Sporting led the Galaxy 2-0 after 61 minutes on Saturday, after goals from Benny Feilhaber and Lawrence Olum, and then withstood a Robbie Keane-led comeback attempt for a 2-1 victory that snapped the Galaxy's unbeaten run at eight.
Sporting (10-5-5), whose game-winning goals in its last two matches came in the 89th minute or later, extended their unbeaten string to six matches and are 7-0-1 this year when leading at the half. Los Angeles (7-4-6) lost for the first time since falling 1-0 at Houston on May 17.
Saturday's match came on the heels of Sporting's announcement that defender Matt Besler and winger/midfielder Graham Zusi had been signed to multi-year Designated Player contracts – but the game action itself was anything but anticlimactic.
Sporting had the best of the early going, applying high pressure from the outset and unleashing five shots in the first 11 minutes – and going up 1-0 on the fifth attempt, Feilhaber's 11th-minute free kick from just outside the area.
Juninho's foul on Soony Saad set up the opportunity, and Feilhaber buried a hard curler in the upper left of the goal. Before the score, the Galaxy had gone 60 league matches without conceding in the first 15 minutes.
The Galaxy began to generate more chances after switching from a diamond formation to a 4-4-2 with Landon Donovan and Keane up top later in the first half, and looked to be on the doorstep of an equalizer when Juninho and Keane got free for a 2-v-1 break on Sporting keeper Andy Gruenebaum in the 54th minute. Keane put his shot high under a hard charge from Gruenebaum, flipping over the keeper after the shot, with no foul called either way on the play.
Seven minutes after that missed chance, Sporting doubled their lead. Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo saved halftime substitute Jacob Peterson's header off the crossbar following a corner kick, but Olum was right there to head it in from close range for his second goal of the year – a career high for the former USL PRO journeyman.
Keane came close to pulling one back from the Galaxy in the 65th minute, but banged his hard half-volley off the crossbar from just outside the box. He made good in the 79th minute, though, getting the visitors to 2-1. After a failed clearance on a Galaxy corner kick, Keane ran onto second-half sub – and MLS debutant – Bradford Jamieson IV's flick-on header and sent a roller inside the far post as Feilhaber slid in vain to try and clear it.
Both clubs host Manchester sides in exhibitions on Wednesday, Sporting against Premiership champs Manchester City and the Galaxy against Manchester United. Sporting return to league play on July 26 at Toronto FC, while the Galaxy don't play another MLS match until visiting Seattle on July 28.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Benny Feilhaber||Another game, another fantastic goal for Feilhaber, who followed up his late winner in Wednesday's victory at Columbus with a fantastic free kick in the 11th minute.|
|2||Robbie Keane||Scored LA's goal, hit the bar and was menacing throughout for a LA side that struggled at times.|
|3||Graham Zusi||Celebrated his newly-inked DP contract with a solid, creative 90 minute shift.|